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ROBERT TREAT 

FOUNDER, FARMER, SOLDIER, STATESMAN, 
GOVERNOR 



Paper read before the Nkw Havkx Colony Historical Society 

By Gbneeal George Ha.re Ford 

April 17tli, 1911 



[Reprint from Volume VITI, 5I^e\v Haven Colony Historical Society, 
published April, 1914.] 



'^&^tiejS^C 



ROBERT TREAT 

FOUNDER, FARMER, SOLDIER, STATESMAN, 
GOVERNOR 



Paper read before the New HAVE^f Colony Historical Society 

By General George Hare Ford 

'1 

April 17th, 1911 



[Reprint from Volume VIII, New Haven Colony Historical Society, 
published April, 1914. ] 



7^ 



ROBERT TREAT: FOUNDER, FARMER, 
SOLDIER, STATESMAN, GOVERNOR. 

By George Haee Fokd. 
[Read April 17, 1911.] 



John Fiske, in his history of the "Beginnings of New Eng- 
land," says, "The native of Connecticut or Massachusetts who 
wanders about rural England to-day, finds no part of it so 
homelike as the cosy villages and smiling fields and quaint 
market towns. Countless little features remind him of home. 
In many instances the homestead which his forefathers left, 
when they followed Winthrop or Hooker to America, is still 
to be found, well-kept and comfortable; the ancient manor- 
house, much like the ISTew England farmhouse, with its long 
sloping roof, and its narrow casements from which one might 
have looked out upon the anxious march of Edward IV, from 
Havenspur to the field of victory, in days when America was 
unknown. 

"In the little parish church which has stood for perhaps a 
thousand years, plain enough to suit the taste of the sternest 
Puritan, one may read upon the cold pavement one's own name 
and the names of one's friends and neighbors ; and yonder on 
the village green, one comes with bated breath upon the simple 
inscription which tells of some humble hero who on that spot, 
in the evil reign of Mary, suffered death by fire. 

The colonial history of ISTew England is so associated with 
that of the rulers of the mother country that, to comprehend 
the existing conditions, it becomes necessary in a measure to 
consider the characteristics of the men and the methods that 
controlled Old as well as New England during this period. 

0CI,A3747OO 

JUL 13 1914 >^^ 



ROBERT TREAT. 



163 



""j^ In the latter part of the reign of James I, bands of Puritans 

=.i were found studying the subject of immigration to America. 
^Considering the climate South too hot and E"orth too cold, they 

7\::\,decided to found their American colony on Delaware Bay. 

^ The Mayfloiuer sailed on its tempestuous voyage, and, driven 

by adverse winds, landed on the 'New England "stern and rock- 
bound coast," instead of Delaware Bay, making Plymouth 
Rock famous and Massachusetts the accidental foundation of 
New England. 

The founders of Massachusetts and Connecticut were men 
conspicuous for their high character and marked ability. Liver- 
more says of the jSTew Haven colony: "The company was 
remarkable. Davenport and Eaton surpassed all other com- 
rades in dignity and influence and in the colony were many 
wealthy Londoners." 

Other distinguished men were Hopkins, the founder of three 
grammar schools; five able ministers, four school teachers; 
one became the first master of Harvard College, and the other 
the first ISTew Englander to publish an educational work. Pre- 
ceded by Winthrop, Saltonstall, Wareham, Hooker and others, 
important companies had arrived and settled in Massachusetts 
and the upper part of Connecticut. 

Among the first-comers at Wethersfield appears Mr. Richard 
Trott, the name "Trott" being the original English family 
name of the American "Treat." The family history of this 
settler of Wethersfield is readily traced back to John Trott 
of Staple Grove, Taunton, England, as far back as 1458. 
Taunton, a place of English antiquity, was originally a Roman 
settlement and the family of Trott were evidently of Roman 
origin, as an entry made in the records of 1571 refers to 
Richard as "Rici" and Robert as "Robtus." This occurs 
in a deed from father to son which, translated from the original, 
provided that the conveyance was made on condition that the 
said Robtus was not to sell or surrender the premises to any 
person or persons except by the family name of Trotte. 

This Taunton Manor, County of Somerset, by a coincidence, 
is the same parish from which came Thomas Trowbridge, one of 



164 EGBERT TREAT, 

the original settlers of New Haven, from whom the distin- 
guished family of that name have descended. The parish rec- 
ords of Taunton, I am told by Mr. Francis B. Trowbridge, 
carry that family name back to 15Y0. 

With the authorities at command, we must assume that the 
name of Treat is absolutely of American coinage, as it does 
not exist in England. As far as known every person in the 
United States by the name of Treat is descended from Robert 
Treat. In the early records it was spelled "Treate" ; even the 
name of the wife of Governor Treat is so engraved upon her 
tombstone at Milford. 

The high social rank of Richard Trott or Treat, of Wethers- 
field, is demonstrated by the various offices of honor and trust 
that he held. Titles then amounted to something. Mr. was 
a mark of importance. "Esq." attached to a name indicated, 
as in Old England, a land-owner, and these titles were as highly 
esteemed as Hon. is now, not more than five per cent, of the 
community being then entitled to their use. 

Richard Trott or Treat was frequently referred to in the 
records as "Mr." and "Esq." Some of the early writers 
assume that he arrived in the Saltonstall Colony in 1630 ; others 
that he was a deputy from Wethersfield as early as 1637 ; both 
theories are errors, as the records in England show that 
Katharine, the youngest of his nine children, was baptized there 
in February, 1637. The Connecticut colonial records show that 
he was chosen deputy in 1644 and annually thereafter for 
fourteen years; then being chosen magistrate eight times in 
succession until 1665. 

With the names of John Winthrop, Mason, Gold, and Wol- 
cott, his name appears as one of the patentees of the charter 
secured for the colony in 1660 from Charles II, by Governor 
Winthrop. He is said to have been a person of wealth and 
owned large tracts of land in what is now the town of Glaston- 
bury. Frequent mention is made of him in the records as 
laying out lands. It is probable that Robert acquired some 
knowledge of surveying from his father. 

Robert Treat was the second son and fifth child of Richard 
Treat, the first-comer. He was baptized in England, February, 



KOBEKT TREAT. 



165 



1624, and was one of the original company that settled in 
Milford in 1639. Then a very young man, his name with nine 
others is recorded separately immediately after the forty-four 
church members. (These ten not being conceded the privileges 
of citizenship.) 

Lambert says that at the first meeting of the planters, Kobert, 
then under sixteen, being skilled in surveying, was one of the 
nine appointed to lay out the home lots. Stiles refers to him 
as being then seventeen years old. Some writers assume that 
he was studying theology under Peter Prudden, and thus came 
from Wethersfield to Milford with the Prudden family. While 
he did not have the advantages of a college training, he was 
certainly well educated, as is shown in after years, when he 
frequently made use of Latin and other languages. 

He immediately became a conspicuous character in the town 
and the colony. Lambert gives him the credit of being the first 
town clerk of Milford, from 1640 to 1648. This must, to a 
certain extent, be tradition as the fragments of the records 
of the town of that period that are preserved do not confirm 
this. The 'New Haven Colonial Records first mention his 
name in 1644 and not again until 1653. This is accounted 
for by the fact of the loss of the records of that period, except 
so far as they refer to magistrates. From the year 1653, records 
preserved show that he was chosen deputy to the General 
Court from Milford and each year following until the court 
of May, 1659, when he was advanced to magistrate. He con- 
tinued in that office until 1664, when, although again chosen, he 
declined to accept. Magistrates then not only constituted what 
is now the upper house of the General Assembly, but the 
Supreme Court of the State. 

The confederation of ISTew Haven colony effected in 1642 
consisted of Milforde, Guilforde, Stamforde and Yennicock 
(Southold). The Government for the whole jurisdiction was 
fully organized this year and for the first time are distinctly 
recorded the names of governor, deputy governor, magistrates 
and deputies. 

Mr. Eaton was annually chosen Governor while he lived and 
generally Mr. Goodyear, Deputy Governor. They had no salary 



166 ROBERT TREAT. 

but served solely for the honor and the public good. Francis 
N'ewman succeeded Mr. Eaton as Governor. In 1661 William 
Leete of Guilford was elected Governor, continuing in that 
office until the union with the Connecticut Colony was effected. 
At the General Court at New Haven, 1654, the court was 
informed that "Milford have chosen Kobert Treate leiutenant 
for their towne and desire he may be confirmed by this court." 
In 1647 he married Jane, the daughter of Edmund Tapp, 
who was one of the original founders and one of the seven 
pillars of the church. 

A pretty story, told by Lambert and frequently repeated, 
is as follows: — "At a spinning bee or frolic on a Christmas 
night, Robert, being somewhat older, took Jane upon his knee 
and began to trot her. 'Robert,' said she, 'be still, I would 
rather be treated than trotted.' " She soon became the bride 
of Robert Treat. The story is conceded to be a clever reference 
to the name of Trott or Treat. The result of this marriage was 
eight children, four boys and four girls, although Savage, in 
his genealogy, gave the number as twenty-one; evidently the 
children of his son Robert were counted in this estimate. 

William Fowler, the first magistrate in the town and an 
ancestor of Mr. Henry Fowler English, the donor of this build- 
ing to the ISTew Haven Colony Historical Society, was commis- 
sioned to erect the first mill in the colony. He was assisted 
in the enterprise by Robert Treat, who evidently retained a 
share in the mill, as it is mentioned in his will. 

Charles I, ''the star chamber ruler," was claimed to be a 
good man but a bad king. He had a cultured mind, was a 
devoted husband and fond father; but an unscrupulous ruler. 
He ruled, not because England chose him or considered that 
he ruled for the good of England or not. He assumed that he 
was placed upon the throne by the Lord of Hosts and he there- 
fore governed according to his o^vn ideas. A victim of his 
own mismanagement, his defeat at Marston Moor was followed 
by his death on the scaffold, to which he was condemned by his 
own judges, his death-warrant being signed by fifty-nine, includ- 
ing the regicides Goffe, Whalley and Dixwell, whose history 
is so closely interwoven with that of ISTew Llaven Colony. 



ROBERT TREAT. 



167 



During the two years' stay of the regicides Goffe and Whalley 
in Milford, tradition says that Kobert Treat was among their 
selected acquaintances and friends and that when the letter was 
received from Charles II, commanding their arrest, Treat 
immediately signed a warrant and commanded the inhabitants 
of Milford to make a diligent search, well aware that no search, 
however diligent, would be successful in finding them within 
the tovTn limits. 

A period of ten years followed without interference on the 
part of the mother country, until 1660, when we find Charles 
II upon the throne. 

Massachusetts and Plymouth had charter rights, Connecticut 
and ^ew Haven only a voluntary form of government. The 
General Court of Connecticut immediately made formal 
acknowledgment of allegiance to the crown and applied for 
a charter, l^ew Haven Colony hesitated and finally omitted 
to take such action. 

Governor Winthrop of Connecticut in the early part of the 
year sailed for England. A number of his friends held high 
positions at Court. Possessing an extraordinary ring given 
his grandfather by Charles I, he found favor by presenting it 
to the King, and returned with that most remarkable and 
liberal charter, so broad and comprehensive, which settled the 
whole boundary line of Connecticut soil, including all that 
portion occupied by the ISTew Haven Colony. 

Great discontent prevailed in the colony. Treat and many 
others favored a union with Connecticut, yet were opposed to 
many of the conditions. The controversy was intense for some 
years. Davenport differed with Governor Leete on the subject. 
Many declined to pay their taxes and ignored the ISTew Haven 
laws. The debt of the colony was increasing. Milford broke 
off from 'New Haven and declined to send deputies or magis- 
trates to the General Court. 

Under these conditions a Special Court was held at ISTew 
Haven, at which the members of the court and the elders of the 
colony consulted upon the subject of a proposed union. After 
much discussion Robert Treat, Esq., and Richard Baldwin of 



168 EOBEKT TREAT. 

Milford were appointed a committee to accomplish the business 
with Connecticut. 

The selection of Kobert Treat was especially fitting, not 
only from his ability, but from his birth and connections. His 
father, Eichard, as well as his brothers and brothers-in-law 
were patentees in the charter grant and occupied important 
positions in Connecticut. By marriage Treat was connected 
with the influential settlers Tapp and William Fowler, magis- 
trates and pillars of the church. 

As the result of the negotiations on May 1, 1665, both 
colonies, consisting of nineteen towns, amicably united and John 
Winthrop, Esq., was chosen Governor, (Branford was the 
only town that declined to accept the conditions of the union 
that were in many respects unsatisfactory to Robert Treat.) 
About this time Davenport, disheartened with the trend of 
events, removed to Boston. 

Twice during the controversy between the two colonies, with 
Benjamin Fenn and Deacon Gunn, Robert Treat was sent by 
a company of distinguished settlers and dissenters to negotiate 
with the Dutch Governor for a settlement in ]^ew Jersey. It 
is said that the Governor took them in his private barge to 
examine l!Tewark Bay and in the spring of 1666, Robert Treat 
sailed into the Passaic River with forty heads of families 
in the company, chiefly from IsTew Haven, Milford and Bran- 
ford, with Rev. Abraham Pierson, afterward one of the 
founders and the first rector or first president of Yale College, 
as their spiritual leader. 

Adopting such articles as were cited in the fundamental agree- 
ment of twenty-seven years previous at New Haven, the town 
settled by them was called "Milford" until 1667, when the 
name "Newark" was adopted out of honor to the English 
home of Rev. Mr. Pierson. Every male member of the com- 
pany signed the agreement and the signatures might well indi- 
cate to some that Davenport and Eaton were located on the 
banks of the Passaic instead of on the banks of the Quinnipiack. 
In the agreement Robert Treat's name heads the list. 

Honoring Treat as their leader and pioneer, in laying out 
the lots, he was given first choice and chose the lot in Newark 



EGBERT TKEAT. 169 

now bounded by Market Street, Mulberry Street and Broad 
Street. He was Newark's first town clerk and recorder. At 
the first General Assembly in New Jersey in 1668, Captain 
Treat is referred to as one of the Deputies and later on as one 
of the Governor's Commissioners. 

Barber and Howe in their Historical Collections of New 
Jersey speak of Newark's being indebted to him for its wide 
main streets and the beauty and extent of the public square, 
while Stearns in his history speaks of Mr. Treat as follows: 
'"Next comes Robert Treat, the flower and pride of the whole 
company. To his wise energy, Newark owes much of its early 
order and good management." 

In 1672 Treat returned to Connecticut and his first-love, 
Milford, never having sold his property there. He, however, 
left two of his children on the soil of New Jersey, and a mem- 
ory in Newark that is cherished to the present day, and by all 
historical writers on the subject and at all historical local 
celebrations, Robert Treat is referred to as, and conceded to be, 
the father and the founder of the city of Newark. 

We now approach the military career of Robert Treat. As 
?:-'=fore mentioned, as early as 1654, he was chosen lieutenant 
of the Train Band at Milford and by the General Court com- 
missioned to take charge of the military affairs of the town. 
In 1661 he was elected captain. The year following his return 
from New Jersey he was commissioned as major and appointed 
second Commander-in-Chief of the forces to be raised in the 
Colony and sent against the Dutch. The existing conflict with 
the Dutch kept the colony in constant anxiety. Treat formed 
what was known as a "Committee of Safety." 

The year 1675 was a serious year for the New England Colony. 
The Indians, who, after the conquest of the Pequots in 1637, for 
a long period seemed to be fairly peaceful, now became restless. 
New outbreaks occurred in the Plymouth Colony, in Massa- 
chusetts and Rhode Island. While Connecticut did not suffer 
as did the other colonies, her alliance with the New England 
Colonies made the situation serious. In this year, with a burst 
of uncommon fury, came the organized efforts of the various 
tribes in combined hostilities, resulting in the famous King 



170 BOBEET TREAT. 

Philip's War, the most disastrous of the Indian wars in iSTew 
England history. 

One thousand men were ordered for active service hv the 
United Colonies, the quota of Connecticut being three himdred 
and fifty. 

John Mason, for years the most important and distinguished 
military commander of the State, was far advanced in years 
and infirm, and thus retired from further service. Robert 
Treat, looked upon as his most able military successor, was 
chosen "Commander-in-Chief of the Connecticut forces and 
commissioned to take charge of all the military forces with 
such arms, ammunition, provisions and appurtenances, all 
ofiicers and all soldiers, marshaled, maintained and disposed of." 

About the time Treat assumed command, Captain Lathrop 
of Massachusetts with a band of ninety picked men, known as 
the "Flower of Essex," and the best drilled company in the 
colony, had been led into ambush, overwhelmed, and only eight 
of their number escaped. The Indians in large numbers were 
making attacks with arrows tipped with burning rags shot 
on the roofs of the houses, destroying towns, ruining the crops 
of the farmers and driving the inhabitants from place to place. 
Treat quickly moved his forces to Massachusetts in defense and 
began his brilliant campaign at Deerfield, l^orthfield, Hadley, 
Bloody Brook and Springfield, and by his swift movements, 
arriving as he always did at a critical moment, turned defeat 
into victory. During this campaign, which lasted until fall, he 
had frequently been called back with his command to defend 
Connecticut and the promptness and skill of his manoeuvers 
was remarkable and gave him great prestige as a commander. 

At the close of the campaign, however, Treat resigned his 
commission. His resignation was not accepted. Instead, the 
General Assembly passed a vote of thanks for his good services 
and requested that he continue, giving him increased powers 
to raise and command all the troops necessary. Authorities 
say he was rapidly becoming second to none in the colony 
except perhaps the Governor. 

Winter was approaching. The Indians had gone into winter 
quarters at their Narragansett fort near Kingston, R. I., to wait 



ROBERT TREAT. 171 

until spring, when the shelter of the leaves would afford them 
greater advantages for warfare. The Colonies, however, deemed 
it wise to make an attack upon them while massed together, and 
the 10th of December, 1675, was the day appointed on which 
the attack was to be made. Every Englishman capable of bear- 
ing arms was commanded by proclamation of the Governor 
to hold himself in readiness to march at a moment's notice. 

Major General Josiah Winslow was to command the expedi- 
tion, with Major Samuel Appleton of Massachusetts, Major 
Robert Treat of Connecticut and Major William Bradford of 
Plymouth commanding their respective forces; Treat being 
selected as second in command to General Winslow. The entire 
force consisted of 1,127 men; 450 from Connecticut, with 
200 Mohicans under Oneco. 

It was a cold December day when Major Treat, with his 
command, left 'New London and began his march to join the 
forces near Wickford, camping in the open air in the midst 
of heavy snow. 

The ISTarragansett fort stood on a hill in the center of 
a vast swamp, which was an island of about five or six acres 
surrounded by high palisades and in which were 3,500 Indian 
warriors. The only entrance was over a fallen tree protected 
by a block house, which, Hubbard says, "sorely gauled the 
men who first attempted to enter." 

The beginning was most disastrous. Connecticut troops were 
driven back with heavy losses. Four Connecticut captains were 
killed at the head of their command and a fifth received a 
mortal wound. A bullet passed through the hat of Major Treat. 
The situation was critical when Oneco offered to scale the 
wall and force a real entrance. This was accomplished, and 
the Connecticut men under Major Treat entering the fort, saved 
the day. 

This battle, known as the great swamp fight, was of great 
importance to the English. It was the most remarkable in 
New England and in the annals of the early colonies, and was 
won at the expense of many lives, including brave and valued 
officers. The ISTarragansetts never again offered any organized 
resistance. 



172 ROBEKT TEE AT. 

Treat with the remainder of his army returned home imme- 
diately. Sometime afterward he was commissioned as Colonel 
of the militia in E'ew Haven County. This being the first 
official reference on the records to a Colonel for ISTew Haven 
County, we must assume that ISTovember, 1687, was the birth 
of what is now the Second Eegiment, Connecticut ISTational 
Guard; that such a regiment has been continuously in 
existence since that period; and that Eobert Treat was its 
first Colonel. 

Complications arose in reference to boundary lines between 
the Dutch and the ISTew England Colonies, the Dutch claiming 
all the land in Connecticut south of the Connecticut River. 
The commissioners agreed upon to settle the dispute were 
Robert Treat, ITathan Gold, John Allen and William Pitkin. 
The conference resulted in the formation of Connecticut's 
western border line known as the "Ridgefield Angle," and the 
surrender to l^ew York of the towns on Long Island previously 
belonging to Connecticut, and secured for Connecticut the 
present towns of Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Darien 
and a part of iN'orwalk. 

In the midst of these boundary disputes occurred the death 
of Winthrop after eighteen years of distinguished service. He 
was succeeded by William Leete who had been Governor of the 
I^Tew Haven Colony before the union of the colonies and Deputy 
of the Connecticut Colony under Winthrop after their union. 
Robert Treat was now chosen Deputy Governor and was annu- 
ally reelected until the death of Governor Leete in 1683, when 
he was elected the eighth Governor of Connecticut and the 
third under the new charter. By reelection he held this office 
fifteen years, then declining to become Governor again was 
elected Deputy Governor for the following ten years. 

We may with profit pause here for a moment and contemplate 
the high character of the early Colonial Governors. John 
Haynes, the first Governor of Connecticut, was said to have 
been an ideal representative of the civil life, as Hooker was 
the apostle of the religious. Coleridge, in referring to him, 
calls him "a religious and moral aristocracy." 



ROBERT TREAT. 173 

The second Governor, Edwin Hopkins, was also a distin- 
guished man. He was son-in-law of Eaton, first Governor of 
the 'New Haven Colony, who was a wealthy London mer- 
chant. He engaged extensively in trade and commerce; he 
established trading posts and country stores from New England 
to Delaware and left property in his will to establish the 
grammar schools bearing his name, that are in existence to-day. 

Upon the death of Governor Hopkins in England, George 
Wyllys was elected the third Governor for one year. Wyllys 
was then seventy-two years of age, and is said to have been 
a gentleman of leisure, of high character and standing. He 
owned the square in the center of the City of Hartford on 
which the charter oak stood. 

Thomas Welles, the fourth Governor, held the office for two 
terms. He was the first Treasurer of the colony and came 
to America in the interests of Lord Say in settling Saybrook. 

John Webster, the fifth Governor, founder of the Webster 
family in America, an ancestor of iN'oah Webster, was said 
to be the most scholarly of the early Governors of the colony. 

John Winthrop, Jr., the sixth Governor, youngest son of 
the famous Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts, was one of 
the foremost men in l!^ew England and his worth is expressed 
in a single sentence quoted from Mather, "God gave him favor 
in the eyes of all with whom he had to do." 

Governor William Leete, seventh Governor, was a descendant 
of a distinguished family, which, as early records show, were 
land owners as early as the 13 th century. He was noted for 
his integrity, was a popular official, and enjoyed the distinction 
of being Governor of both ISTew Haven and the Connecticut 
Colonies. 

Our little commonwealth, the Constitution State, denominated 
by historians as the "Birthplace of political freedom," as well 
as "The land of steady habits," has a history replete with 
dramatic incidents and full of events that excite interest and 
veneration. 

The three periods which command the most intense interest 
occurred under the administration of Governors Robert Treat, 



174 ROBERT TREAT. 

Jonathan Trumbull and William A. Buckingham. These three 
men may justly be referred to as the three war Governors of 
Connecticut. Soon after the election of Governor Treat, com- 
plications arose in England. James II proposed to revoke the 
Colonial charters and withdraw the privileges granted by 
Charles II in both Old and l^ew England. This was undoubt- 
edly the most critical period in the history of ISTew England. 
The charters of all the I^ew England Colonies were called for. 
It was proposed to annex Connecticut either to Massachusetts 
or to the Netherlands, or else to cut it in two at the Connecticut 
River and divide it between the two. The situation was peril- 
ous and the prospect of Connecticut being wiped from off the 
map as a State was for a time imminent. 

Sir Edmund Andros, referred to as the "Tyrant of jSTew 
England," was appointed Governor of all the jSTew England 
Colonies. He arrived in Boston in December, 1686, authorized 
to take the government of all the settlements in iSTew England 
into his own hands. Plymouth, Massachusetts and Rhode 
Island surrendered at once. He then notified Governor Treat 
that he proposed visiting Connecticut to take command of its 
affairs and possession of its charter. Treat opened negotia- 
tions and consumed months in writing, attempting to pacify 
him, and under one pretense and another succeeded in causing 
a delay of nearly a year or until the October following, when 
Andros became impatient and sent a messenger to notify Treat 
of his intention of coming to Connecticut at once. 

The General Assembly immediately convened. Sir Edmund 
arrived, attended by a retinue and a bodyguard of troops, and 
was received with great ceremony and hospitality. Governor 
Treat escorted him to the Assembly, showing him marked atten- 
tion. He was introduced, and the ceremonies and discussion 
of that famous afternoon and evening were begun. 

Treat's plan and instructions were: First, prevent, if pos- 
sible, the loss of the charter; second, failing in this, plead 
that the colony be allowed to remain undivided and unattached 
to any other. 

It is said that the arguments on the part of Treat were made 
with great diplomacy. At all times he referred to Andros with 



ROBEET TREAT. 175 

respect and friendliness. With his cool temperament, great 
wisdom and winning manner, he made a long address, stating 
the attachment the people had for their charter, the privations 
they had endured in procuring it and pleading that they might 
be permitted to retain it; that their territory should not be 
divided and that they would prefer to serve under Governor 
Andros. The afternoon wore away. Treat still arguing and 
pleading with marked skill and diplomacy, battling for the 
rights of the people. 

Lights had to be brought in to enable the members to trans- 
act the business. The charter had been laid on the table before 
them during the discussion. Suddenly the lights were extin- 
guished. Confusion followed and before the lights and order 
were restored someone had removed the charter. Discussion 
occurs as to whether the original or duplicate charter was before 
the body, or both, but this is immaterial. The original charter 
was written on three skins and is in the Capitol at Hartford, 
and the duplicate on two skins is in possession of the Connect- 
icut Historical Society. It was the custom to execute all impor- 
tant documents in duplicate, so that if one was lost in trans- 
mission across the ocean, the other might be preserved. 

President Stiles writes as follows: "iN'athan Stanley, father 
of the late Colonel Stanley, took one of the charters, and Mr. 
Talcott, father of the late Governor Talcott, took the other." 
Other very reliable authorities, however, say that Captain 
Wadsworth and Captain N"ichols of Hartford cooperated to 
save the charter. There must have been many assistants in 
the plot, however, as the lights were all extinguished simul- 
taneously. Wadsworth grabbed the charter and hid it in the 
trunk of that venerable oak that thus became the most famous 
tree in the world. Later, Captain Wadsworth is supposed to 
have secreted the charter in his house, where it remained until 
the reestablishment of the colonial government. 

The day's proceedings were evidently planned and the indi- 
cations are that Governor Treat was associated with the prin- 
cipal actors in the drama. Andros returned to Boston without 
the charter. Evidently he was much impressed with the quali- 
ties of Governor Treat, for the month following this episode, 



176 ROBERT TREAT. 

he made him a member of his council and judge in this 
territory. 

Governor Andros's administration was highly tyrannical. 
All the colonies from Maine to the Delaware were brought 
under his arbitrary rule, and this was a severe blow to their 
prosperity. He was responsible to no one but the King for 
whatever he might choose to do. While his headquarters were in 
Boston, one of the principal meeting houses there was seized. 
Taxes were imposed. Nothing was allowed to be printed with- 
out permission. All the records of N'ew England were ordered 
to be brought to Boston. Deeds and wills were required to 
be registered in Boston and excessive fees were charged for this 
work. The titles of land were ordered revised, and those who 
wished the title confirmed had to pay a heavy tax. General 
Courts were abolished. Dudley, first assistant to Sir Edmund, 
openly declared the people had no further privileges except 
not to be sold for slaves. 

When the news of the landing of the Prince of Orange in 
England was received in Boston in April, 1689, drums beat 
to arms and signal fires were lighted on Beacon Hill. The 
militia poured in from the country towns. The people rose 
in revolt and demanded Andros to surrender his position. 
Attempting to escape the authorities, disguised in woman's 
clothes, he was caught and imprisoned on board a ship and sent 
baOT^to England. 

Bradstreet, in his eighty-seventh year, was reinstated Gov- 
ernor of Massachusetts and Robert Treat in Connecticut. 
Treat, in resuming his ofiice, stated that the "people had put 
him in and that he had ventured all he had above his shoulders." 
Immediately proclaiming the allegiance of the Colony to Wil- 
liam and Mary, Treat by wise statesmanship secured a decision 
confirming the validity of the charter. At the age of seventy- 
six he declined reelection to the office of Governor and was 
succeeded by Fitz-John Winthrop. The Colony being unwilling 
to excuse him from public service. Treat was elected Deputy 
Governor for a second time and was continuously elected as 
such for the following ten years until at the age of eighty-six, 



ROBERT TREAT. 



177 



at his own request, he was excused from oflacial duties, and 
retired from public life. He was Deputy Governor, 1676-1683, 
seven years; Governor, 1683-1698, fifteen years; Lieutenant 
Governor, 1698-1708, ten years. 

Treat was a Deputy from Milford for at least six years and 
from Newark five more, and Magistrate in the I^ew Haven 
General Court and assistant for eight years, serving nearly 
twenty years in the halls of legislation. He was seventeen 
years in the chair of Deputy Governor and fifteen years in that 
of Governor, including the two years under Andros, making in 
all a period of thirty-two years as Governor and Deputy Gov- 
ernor, or a total of fifty-two years of public service, a record 
unequalled in the history of this State or of any other so far 
as history quotes where the oflSces were elective. 

During this period, in addition to the ofiicial duties required 
from him in the various offices mentioned, he was frequently 
appointed to hold court, to settle disputes of every kind and 
character that arose in the colony. He also adjusted differ- 
ences between ministers and the people, and established 
boundary lines between the State and the different towns in the 
State. So well balanced was his judgment that he never made 
a legal mistake. The Historian Sheldon says, ''He had the 
faculty for always being in the right place at the right time." 

Robert Treat was a practical farmer. It is said he was often 
found with his hands upon the plow and called to the stone 
wall by the roadside to sigti important papers, or to leave a 
half-turned furrow and muster his troops to quell some Indian 
disturbance or resist some Indian invasion. 

He was an important land-holder, not only in his own town 
but in various towns throughout the State, many of which he 
had assisted in founding or surveying. Three hundred acres 
of his are mentioned between ISTew Haven, Farmington and 
Wallingf ord ; three hundred more in Killingly, now of Wind- 
ham County; while his holdings in N'ewark were among the 
largest in that colony. He left a large fortune for a man of his 
time. (Among the items of his personal property, the inventory 
shows "two slaves" appraised at eighty-five pounds.) 



178 ROBERT TREAT. 

It is said that no estate of consequence in Milford was 
settled between 1670 and 1700 without his assistance. 

It is to be regretted that no portrait of Governor Treat exists. 
The chair that Governor Treat used officially is in good state 
of preservation and in possession of Mrs. Henry Champion, 
a descendant of the Governor. 

The house in which he lived is illustrated in "Lambert's 
History of the Colony of "New Haven," p. 138. Lambert 
states that it stood upon the original plot of Edmund Tapp, 
number 35, as shown in the map drawn in 1646. This would 
indicate that the house stood on the east side of what is now 
North Street, a few rods above the Plymouth Church and at 
the comer of Governor's Avenue. Atwater, in his history of 
the colony, also refers to it, but gives Lambert as authority. 

A buttonball tree, which stood for a number of years in his 
dooryard, is said to have originated as follows : Using a green 
sapling to drive his oxen, Governor Treat was called upon for 
some public service. He stuck the sapling into the ground 
temporarily where he could readily pick it up as he came out 
of the house. It was forgotten, rooted and became a handsome 
shade tree. 

In the early part of the last century a house was built upon 
the original cellar and foundation of the Treat house by Mr. 
Lewis F. Baldwin and his daughter. Mrs. John W. Bucking- 
ham now occupies the house. 

Treat lived to see a distinguished family grow up around 
him. His children and descendants rose to positions of honor 
in this and other colonies. His oldest son. Rev. Samuel Treat, 
located in Massachusetts. Eunice, daughter of Samuel, mar- 
ried Rev. Thomas Paine, father of Robert Treat Paine, Revo- 
lutionary patriot, member of the First Congress, signer of the 
Declaration of Independence, Attorney General and Justice 
of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. His son,* bearing the 
same name, born in 1775, was a distinguished poet in his day. 

* This Robert Treat Paine was originally named Thomas. Not wish- 
ing to bear the name of Thomas Paine, the Atheist, by act of Legislation 
in 1801 his name was changed to Robert Treat Paine. 



KOBEET TREAT. 



179 



Thomas Treat Paine, born in 1803, was a noted astronomer 
and left a large property to Harvard College. His relative 
was tlie lato Robert Treat Paine, known in our generation as 
a philanthropist, and for years President of the International 
Peace Congress, whose son the Rev. George Lyman Paine is 
now Rector of St. Paul's Church, this city. The church and 
our community are to be congratulated, and they welcome back 
to the colony so prominent a descendant of Governor Treat. 

One son remained in ISTewark, where the family became prom- 
inent. Two remained in Milford, and many of Milford's old 
and honored men for the past two centuries have borne the 
name. One daughter married Rev. Samuel Mather of Windsor. 
The other, Abigail, married the Rev. Samuel Andrew, one of 
the founders of Yale. 

Many of his descendants, bearing the name of Treat and 
other prominent names, are men distinguished either as states- 
men, leaders, ministers or military commanders. 

Governor Treat's death occurred on July 10, 1710. He was 
buried in the old cemetery at Milford. The stone, unique in 
its character and in good state of preservation, reads as follows : 

HEKE LYETH INTERRED THE 

BODY OF COLL. ROBERT 

TREAT ESQ. WHO FAITHFULLY 

SERVED THIS COLONY IN THE 

POST OF GOVERNOR AND 

DEPUTY GOVERNOR NEAR 

YE SPACE OF THIRTY YEARS 

AND AT YE AGE OF FOUR 

SCORE AND EIGHT YEARS 

EXCHANGED THIS LIFE 

FOR A BETTER, JULY 12tH 

ANNO dom: 1710 

His last will is full of expressions of tenderness, such as this : 
"Being aged in years and not knowing how suddenly the Lord 
may by death call me home from out of this life, but being 



180 ROBERT TREAT. 

at present of sound understanding and memory, etc." Then 
the will proceeds "as a pledge of my fatherly love and farewell 
kindness to my dear and loving children." 

On the Memorial Bridge erected at Milford in 1889, in com- 
memoration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of 
the settlement of the town, was placed on the Tower the largest 
slab in honor of Governor Treat. 

Trumbull, 1797, says, "Few men have sustained a fairer 
character or rendered the public a more important service." 
"Connecticut as a Colony and a State, 1904," says of Treat, 
"He was a beau-ideal of a gentleman." 

Perhaps we cannot better close our references to the life and 
services of Robert Treat than to quote the tribute paid to 
him by Hollister in his "History of Connecticut, 1855" as it 
seems to round up briefly and concisely his many characteristics. 
It reads as follows : — 

"Governor Treat was not only a man of high courage, but he was one 
of the most cautious military leaders and possessed a quick sagacity united 
with a breadth of understanding that enabled him to see at a glance the 
most complex relations that surrounded the field of battle. 

Not did he excel only as a hero; his moral courage and inherent force 
of character shone with the brightest lustre in the Executive Chair or 
Legislative Chamber, when stimulated by the opposition and malevolence 
of such men as Andros. 

In private life he was no less esteemed. He was a planter of that 
hospitable order that adorned New England in an age when hospitality 
was accounted a virtue and when the term 'Gentleman' was something 
more than an empty title. 

His house was always open to the poor and friendless and whenever 
he gave his hand he gave his heart. 

Hence, whether marching to the relief of Springfield or extending his 
charities to Whalley or Goffe, while he drowned a tear of sympathy in the 
lively sparkle of fun and anecdote, he was always welcome, always beloved. 

His quick sensibilities, his playful humor, his political wisdom, his 
firmness in the midst of dangers, and his deep piety have still a tradi- 
tionary fame in the neighborhood where he spent the brief portion of his 
time that he was allowed to devote to the culture of the domestic and 
social virtues." 



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